Rock and Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Review
I'm a 43 year old male who runs about 20 miles per week and started running to stay in shape in 2009. I recently ran the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas. Although I have run close to 50 half marathons this was my first experience running a Rock and Roll event.
Although I am capable of running a half marathon in under two hours, I ran this race simply for the experience and ended up finishing it comfortably in about 2:30 with quite a few walk breaks to stop and watch some of the bands on the route.
The first thing I noticed about the Rock and Roll events are that they are expensive. I typically pay $50 to $60 to run a half marathon, often much less. You can't run a Rock and Roll event for under $100 and can pay much more than that if you register late. Registration to sign up at the Expo was $195. Make no mistake about it, Rock and Roll Events are a highly marketed money grab. That doesn't mean they're not worth running or fun but be prepared to be barraged throughout the event to spend money, from pictures, to VIP events to clothing emblazoned with the Rock and Roll corporate logo.
That said, it's pretty easy to avoid all the extras they try and sell you. Personally I do not look my best during a 13.1 mile race, especially at the end so the pictures they can keep. Also I have more race memorabilia than I know what to do with as almost every race, including this one, provides you with a race shirt and medal. Not to mention a pretty cool bib you can keep as a memento.
But it was also clear at this race, that for many of the runners this was a one and done proposition. Meaning they only intended to run this one event, so for these customers they may want to go overboard purchasing the extra bling. Given this is the Las Vegas Rock and Roll there was no shortage of non-runners in the event, having been recruited on a lark by friends or relatives to do something out of the ordinary. And in our culture of Facebook and Instagram posts this event is tailor made to capture some unique moments to add to one's social profile.
You will need to attend The Expo the day before the race to pick up your bib. There is an option if you register early enough to have them mail your registration items to you. For a fee of course.
The Expo was held at the Las Veges Convention Center which is down towards the Stratosphere. Given that we stayed at the Excalibur we had quite the hike, although walking the length of the strip is a worthwhile experience in itself. We later learned that there is a monorail that travels the majority of the strip and one of the stops is the Convention Center. Live and learn! The Monorail costs $5 per ride or you can buy 24 hour and multi-day passes as well.
The Expo itself is pretty standard, it was well organized and you can pick up lots of free food samples and souvenirs. They also had several outfits selling slightly used running shoes at dirt cheap prices. We spent about an hour walking around the Expo and saw what we needed to see and then headed back towards our hotel, this time taking the Monorail.
I took the picture at the right so we knew what time we needed to be in our coral. Rock and Roll events use a Coral system as they have so many runners, upward of 20K. On your bib it will tell you what Coral you signed up for based on your projected finish time. We had put down 2:15 when we signed up so we were assigned to corral 25 which meant we were supposed to be in the coral at 5:03. The first and fastest runners were scheduled to start running at 4:30.
In theory the coral system is a great idea. But in practice it didn't seem to work so well. We could not get through the throng of people to make it to coral 25 so ended up lining up in coral 33. But, no worries, don't run this type of race if you're in it to run a good time or PR. the crowds simply too large to navigate the course quickly unless you're way up front at the start.
The start was near the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It's a coral start system, meaning you get let out in waves separated by a few minutes. The idea is to spread out the runners so faster runners don't have to navigate past slower runners throughout the race.
We started pretty far back in coral 33. We were there mostly to see the sights so although having to navigate around a lot of walkers throughout the race was slightly annoying we were not in it to run a fast time so it wasn't that big of a deal.
That said, if you do want to run a good time make sure you get in a coral time that reflects your goal time and not only that, try and situate yourself towards the front of said coral.
Ready To Go!!!!!!!!!!!!
The race itself is a lot of fun. There's a boring two miles at the start and some slow parts in some slummy parts of the city but the bulk of the race is on the Strip. It's a cool way to see all of the themed Hotels. And running a race at night adds another element making the race unique.
In addition to running the strip it also goes into old Las Vegas which is fun to see.
There is also the added enjoyment of the bands. They did have several DJ stops in addition to the bands which I didn't particularly like but I understand it's likely not that easy to find bands that are willing to play for hours on end on the side of the road.
I did notice in this race more walkers than I have ever seen in a race, especially towards the end. My guess is there are a lot of first time half marathoners in this event which may not be fully prepared to cover the 13 mile distance and many likely didn't pace correctly.
All in all it was a well organized race and the destination makes it a fun one to attend. I could see making this an annual stop on your race calendar. Travel to Vegas is typically on the cheaper side and it's a great place to get away for two or three days.
Old Las Vegas
Besides the race itself there's lots to do and see in Las Vegas when you're not running, from award winning restaurants, shows and even a roller coaster.
We aren't big fans of gambling but found plenty to do during our stay. Simply walking down the strip and into some of the bigger casinos is an entertaining way to pass the time.
On our last day we needed a break from all the sights and sounds so escaped into a movie theater. There's an 8 screen theater near the MGM. The theater was filled with people wearing running shoes so other runners seemed to have the same idea as us as we waited for our flights out of Vegas on the last day.
Walking around Vegas this weekend you will see lots of fellow runners in their race shirts which adds some camaraderie to the event.
The Rock and Roll Half Marathon is a lot of fun and worth attending. I was impressed and will surely run another one of their events. They make for good destination races.
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© 2015 shuck72
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